No sector or industry is immune to cybersecurity threat or hacking. It became even more real for the healthcare industry when WannaCry ransomware cyberattack incident occurred. The severity of the case didn’t only cripple the healthcare institution but various other organizations around the globe.
According to statistics, more than 10 million health records in America were exposed to cyber threat in 2015. By 2016, the number escalated to 15 million according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Office for Civil Rights. In 2017, the healthcare was one of the most prominent sectors heavily targeted by cybercriminals. In fact, it was confirmed that more than 25% of the data breaches that year were related to the healthcare industry, resulting in a loss of $5.6 billion to the sector in a year.
These alarming statistics are enough for the entire industry to buck up and take cybersecurity threat seriously. Healthcare organizations must seek to protect their own as well as their patients’ information keeping these growing threats in mind. The current state of cybersecurity in Virginia and other states requires healthcare institutions to secure their critical data and IT infrastructure with reliable and robust training and consulting.
Here are some ways the healthcare sector can use to strengthen their cybersecurity measures.
HIPAA Security Rule Updates
HIPAA Privacy Rule and HIPAA Security Rule are already popular frameworks for defining guidelines to secure systems, people, equipment, and data.
The methods for securing healthcare institutions by HIPAA are well-established. However, for any organization trying to implement a robust security system must update HIPAA to cover all types of cyber attacks and new tactics employed by cybercriminals.
Update Cybersecurity Tools
For an industry that holds sensitive information of patients, simply having a cybersecurity system in place may not be enough. Regular upgrading and maintenance of the cybersecurity tools ensure having effective processes for a robust support team.
For instance, if a medical institution installs a security tool but does not upgrade it, it will eventually lose its efficiency at preventing and detecting advanced, and newer cyber attacks over time. Similarly, updating the processes is also crucial for hospitals to ensure the tools are active enough to easily detect suspicious IT activities.
Train Staff and Update Protocols
It is important for businesses in the healthcare industry to install defined security procedures. It is an effective way to address how the staff interacts and access the technology within the facility. In a typical hospital or healthcare institution, the staff must use a pin or password to unlock sensitive software that holds data.
It is ideal for such institutions to implement a two-factor identification to strengthen privacy measures. As far as setting the right parameters for security is concerned, it is important for passwords and pins to be very strong. Instead of a four-digit pin, staff associated with the medical sector should use an eight-digit pin. Also, a password should include both symbols and alpha-numeric characters. Additionally, the authorities must change the passwords every 1-2 months before it locks them out.
Implement Comprehensive Built-In Security Software
Every time a health institution installs a new software – especially one dealing with financial or personal data – the organization should ensure opting for a software provider that guarantees to provide utmost security.
Simply installing a firewall system or antivirus software is not enough. You need a third-party assurance too, especially when it comes to software. Also, it is essential to regularly update the health care security system to ensure the best possible protection at any given time.
The measures mentioned above can help an institution to improve cybersecurity in the healthcare sector. Other than that, they can even consider hiring informatics professional, who are trained to collect, process, leverage, and protect data.
The healthcare sector of today must take cybersecurity threat seriously and adapt lessons from industries -, especially the financial services sector. These industries are becoming more advanced and proactive with their ability to prevent and respond to cyber attacks. Keeping in mind the sensitive information hospitals and other healthcare organizations deal with, it is time we make cyber security the topmost priority for this specific sector.